Tips to find the right mentor for you.
With so many Mentors on MentorSelector – we thought we would provide some helpful tips on finding the right Mentor for you.
Tip 1: Have a vision and know what you want to accomplish and why
Many of us forget to ask ourselves – what do I want to achieve, where do I want to go and why – and how can my mentor help me.
I recently spoke with a mentee who had grand plans of where they wanted to go in the finance industry – but when asked why – they didn’t know the answer which then made them question whether their ultimate goal was right for them. It was almost like the mentee was on autopilot, after a position because it was the norm, or there was a perceived prestige or glory of the position they were hunting – but when you delve deeper and understand what it was they were actually after, it was quite clear it wasn’t right for them.
As a mentee, it is always important to step back, set aside some time and be honest with yourself. Ask yourself – where is it I want to go and why do I want to go there.
Once you know the answer to these questions – you can then find a mentor who can help you get there!
Tip 2: Pick the Right Mentor for the right stage of your life or career
Ask yourself – are you looking for help in relation to specific aspects of your career, or your current or future role?
For instance, recently we were approached by a university student who was looking for a mentor in engineering to help prepare them for a graduate position. They wanted a mentor who was a veteran in the industry, a CEO of a firm. Whilst it is always helpful to have a mentor with many years of experience, often we should focus on a mentor who can help you based on where you are currently at and what you currently need. In this situation, we suggested to the mentee that rather than finding a mentor who was a veteran who may be long removed from graduate recruitment and interviews etc, we suggested a mentor who had recently been a university graduate themselves, who was probably better suited to addressing the needs of the mentee – they knew how to write their CV, knew the tips and secrets of conducting a great job interview, knew where to look and how to find a potential job, and knew which electives and majors to study to help open doors.
Don’t forget, you can have more than one mentor – one to help you with the now and one to help guide you for the long term direction of your career – but make sure you understand how each mentor may be able to help you.
You need to ask the following questions:
- Do you need support for specific challenges you are facing now, personally or in your role or career?
- Are you looking to develop your own strengths, skills and experience for the next five years?
- Are you trying to take your career or leadership to the next level?
Tip 3: Ask the right questions
Once you have an idea of what sort of guidance and advice you need – whether it is for a current challenge, or with a future goal in mind, it is important to start asking the right questions about your mentor. Start with:
- What is your mentor’s career experience?
- Have they done what you are trying to do?
- Does your mentor have the experience and skillset to provide guidance on how to tackle your existing problem or achieve your goal?
- Can your mentor help position you for the next career step? Do they have the experience and network to open doors for you?
But remember your Mentor won’t necessarily have all the answers – they are only human. But many mentors may know how to find the answers or can guide you on how to find the answers.
And don’t forget – you can learn a lot from a mentor – not just off their successes, but also from where they had difficulties. We once had a mentee who told us they learnt more from a mentor who had multiple businesses that failed, than a mentor who had an extremely successful business – as the mentor who faced the hurdles and experienced difficulties was able to share with the mentee how to avoid common pitfalls and what to focus on.
Tip 4: Don’t seek a clone
Don’t seek a clone of yourself. It is important and very helpful to get a different perspective. That is one of the benefits of having a mentor –obtaining a different viewpoint, not just reinforcing what you already know.
With hundreds of mentors on MentorSelector – it is important to work out how best to use this tool to find the right mentor for you.
MentorSelector – your tool to find your mentor:
MentorSelector is a database of mentors willing to help you. There are hundreds of mentors from diverse backgrounds, in diverse industries across the globe – so it is important that you take the time to find the right mentor for you.
Here are some tips that we thought might help you to use the database to search for the right mentor for you:
1) Industry & Skillset
Industry and skillset are the two most important search criteria a mentee should utilise. It is important to make sure you correctly select the industry you would like your mentor to be from and the skillset that the mentor can mentor from – which could also include soft skills.
A great way to start your search is to search by location. Location can be an important factor in mentorship – as having a mentor in the same region or location allows the mentor to be more familiar with the mentee’s needs, understand the customs and cultures of a region, and open doors to networks that are more relevant to the mentee.
However location isn’t crucial – depending on what you are seeking from your mentor. Many of our mentor/mentee connections are global with the mentorship conducted via Skype or via our teleconference portal. For instance we have a mentor in Egypt mentoring a mentee in Hong Kong – with positive feedback from all parties.
3) LinkedIn Link
MentorSelector platform allows mentors to display the link to their LinkedIn profile. This is for the benefit of both mentor and mentee.
For mentors it allows the mentor to convey to the mentee their experience and skillset, and also allows mentors to display to mentees their networks, associations, education and accreditations (which may be in addition to what is displayed on their MentorSelector profile).
For mentees, having a LinkedIn profile allows the mentee to independently verify the mentor’s background. Good things to look for in a LinkedIn profile:
Connections – A good indication of a Mentor’s influence and network is the number of connections they have. Whilst some people are active in growing their network, many people have organic network growth as they mature or achieve seniority in their industry.
Mutual Connections – It is helpful to see if your potential mentor has any mutual connections. Mutual connections may often give you an insight into the networks of your potential mentor.
Endorsements – Endorsements are a great way of seeing how well regarded a mentor is in their industry as well as understanding their recognised skill set. But not all LinkedIn members actively seek endorsements, so bear this in mind.
Groups – Participation in LinkedIn groups is another demonstration of how active a mentor is in their industry or market segment.
Please note – LinkedIn isn’t a definitive guide on who your mentor is but it is a helpful tool. LinkedIn is also not as widely used in certain industries as others.
4) Do some research
It is always helpful to do some research on your mentor – if not to verify their experience, but to understand the industry they operate in better and their background.
A simple Google search might yield journals, articles, books or a thesis written by your mentor. Other databases may also be helpful – for instance, some of our mentors are from the film industry with their list of accomplishments listed on Wikipedia and IMDB.
5) Let Us Help – Ask us questions
Most importantly – we are here to help. If you have questions for your mentor – such as asking them about their experience in a certain field, or if you wish to verify their credentials – why not ask us, and we can reach out to your potential mentor on your behalf. Send us an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We advise mentees to ask questions and seek clarification via MentorSelector. Some mentees have approached mentors directly – but we advise against this as often the mentor prefers to connect via MentorSelector until they get to know their mentee better. First impressions last – it is important to respect your mentor’s boundaries – it is the foundation of a strong, trusting, long term relationship.